BMW M4 Coupe first drive


BMW M4 CoupeThe BMW M3 Coupe, the iconic racing machine refined for road use is no more,

the latest incarnation is the M4 Coupe since BMW started expanding its line-up by in-filling their 1, 3, 5 and 7-Series with niche versions using the 2, 4 and 6 numbering.


So under this new arrangement we have the new four door M3 Saloon priced from £56,190 and the two door M4 Coupe costing from £56,650 and arriving soon is the M4 Convertible priced from £60,743. The more popular seven-speed Double clutch transmission (M DCT) with DRIVELOGIC adaptive settings will add £2,645 to those prices.


Gone from previous M3 models is the wondrous normally aspirated 4.0-litre, V8 petrol engine and now we have a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre six-cylinder in-line petrol unit. This Euro 6 engine actually delivers more power and torque than the V8 at 431hp and 550Nm of torque from 1,850rpm which exceeds the outgoing M3 V8 unit by about 40% whilst improving fuel consumption and lower emissions by around 25%. The latest M3/M4s remain front engine driving the rear wheels.


Using a lighter weight engine and a greater use of aluminium for the suspension components and more use of reinforced carbon fibre for body panels, including the roof and even the drive-shaft, has saved around 80kg improving the fuel economy and emissions. However outright performance remains the same with the top speed restricted to 155mph (unrestricted is close to 190mph apparently) and the zero to 62mph acceleration time is 4.1 seconds for the most popular 7-speed M Double Clutch gearbox version.


BMW M4 CoupeBMW M4 CoupeBMW M4 CoupeOfficially both the M3 Saloon and M4 Coupe will return 34mpg in the Combined Cycle and my test time figure covering motorways and A/B roads for a week of interesting driving was 31.8mpg. But in fairness I should point out that much of the time my driving was inhibited by considerable volumes of other traffic. Have you noticed just how busy our roads have become as we all returned to work after the holiday season?


As for CO2 emissions both models with the auto gearbox return 194g/km (204gkm for the manual) so VED road tax is £485 for the First Year rate reducing to £265 for Year Two onwards. The manual gearbox is £635 and then £285. For company car drivers Benefit-in-Kind tax is 31% for the auto and for the 33% manual.


Even though they are lighter in weight the new M3/M4s are marginally larger than the previous M3s and the new aerodynamic styling is stunning. They look a real work of art and it’s not just done for cosmetics; it’s done for improved aerodynamics and great cooling efficiency – mainly for the brakes. The bonnet has a power dome and the front nose, in particular the front bumper and its lower section, has beautifully sculptured air intakes, it really is a thing of beauty – real car-art. The deeply sculptured sides sweep the air efficiently to the rear and even the boot lid has been air-flowed to improve aerodynamic efficiency. Rear vents in the bumper allows the fast flowing air to be released without drag.


My test M4 Coupe came with a body colour called Austin Yellow, surely not an Allegro colour, but it wouldn’t be my choice. Yes it is distinctive but from comments passed the words ‘baby poo’ were used most often. Fortunately other colours are available.


Inside the design is another BMW triumph with leather sports seats providing loads of support and adjustment. As usual the wide-screen sat-nav display and the iDrive control system logically supplies and displays all the information any driver could want. The only annoying functions were the three close-to-hand switches which adjust the steering sharpness, ride comfort and engine power efficiency modes. All but the latter automatically switch to Sport mode every time the car is started so you have to toggle through Sport, Sport+ until you get to Comfort and to be honest with the 19-inch alloy wheels shod with hard riding low profile tyres Comfort is the preferred setting. Even then the ride is very firm and the excessive tyre roar noise intrusion unwelcome.


The front engine rear wheel drive layout retains the near perfect weight balance in the new Coupe so body control is almost faultless. There is predictably sharp turn-in for high speed cornering, the electronic steering feeds back reliable information and of course there are numerous combinations of settings that the driver can use to tune the steering, the adaptive M suspension and drivertrain to their taste and requirements for road or track use. My test Coupe also had the optional M carbon ceramic brakes, a must for track use but nice to have for fast road use but the downside is the cost of £6,250.


The new Ms are typical BMW and so beautifully crafted and it again left me with the feeling that this generation M3/M4 is now first of all an executive sports road machine rather than a race-car adapted for road use. That said the M4 Coupe is now BMW’s new DTM touring car championship missile and it currently heads the drivers, manufacturers and team classes.


BMW M4 CoupeThat brings me on to the M4 Coupe’s performance. Yes it still is the car for those enthusiasts who want to combine their road car with track day use and now in addition it is better suited and potentially nicer as an everyday car for the less adventurous driver. But if you want to get the best from the M4 Coupe you have to be bold, somebody has stolen its magic.. It is happy to be left in its most tolerant mode for a relaxed style of driving with its responsive engine and refined seven-speed fast changing automatic gearbox. That unit allows the driver to tailor the gearbox responses to suit their taste. The M4 also has launch control and BMW’s M Active Differential.


But for entertaining and more rewarding driving you need to get firm with this newcomer and show it who’s in the driving seat. It’s not lethargic but it needs a poke to bring it to life. In M4 guise it seems to have lost its natural racy edge which the more agile M3 Coupe had and a V8 4.0-litre engine is going to have more finesse than a high revving six-cylinder turbo unit.


Some of the lack of ‘theatre’ with the new M4 is to do with the engine’s soundtrack. Gone is the wondrous V8 burble and the naturally created exhaust howl when the engine is being put to really good use. The new twin-turbo straight six engine lacks a really impressive sound track unless it is close to full-chat.


I know all the figures show the new engine gives more power and torque but in real-life driving conditions away from the race track I didn’t feel the M4 Coupe as rewarding or satisfying to drive as the previous M3 Coupe. In fact the new-ish M235i Coupe, which also has a 3.0-litre, turbocharged six cylinder engine with 326hp, is more entertaining and agile to drive and it’s over £22,000 cheaper.


MILESTONES: BMW M4 Coupe automatic: Price: £56,650 + £2,645 for the 7-speed auto gearbox option. Engine/transmission: 3.0-litre, straight six, twin turbo petrol, 431hp, 550Nm (406lb ft) of torque from 1,850rpm, 7-speed auto with launch control and active M differential, rear wheel drive. Performance: 155mph (restricted), 0-62mph 4.1 seconds, 34mpg Combined Cycle (31.8mpg on road test), CO2 194g/km, VED First Year road tax £485 then £265 Year two onwards, BIK company car tax 31%. Insurance group: 42. Warranty: 36-months/unlimited mileage. Dimensions/capacities: L 4,671mm, W 1,870mm, H 1,383mm, boot 445-litres, 2-doors/4-seats. For: More power/torque, improved fuel economy, less CO2 emissions, higher specification and refinement, stunning front-end styling, classy interior. Against: Less thrilling and rewarding to drive than the M3 Coupe unless full Sport+ modes are selected, missing its legendary V8 exhaust soundtrack, intrusive tyre noise, some options should be standard fit for this price. Somebody stole the magic!  Miles Better News agency 

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